Mary of Modena - Queen (1685–1689)

Queen (1685–1689)

Despite all the furore over Exclusionism, James ascended to his brother's thrones easily upon the latter's death, which occurred on 6 February 1685 OS, possibly because the said alternative could provoke another civil war. Mary sincerely mourned Charles, recalling in later life, "He was always kind to me." Mary and James's £119,000 joint coronation ceremony, occurring on 23 April OS, Saint George's day, was meticulously planned. Precedents were sought for Mary because a full-length joint coronation had not occurred since the ceremony performed for Henry VIII of England and Catherine of Aragon.

Queen Mary's health had still not recovered after the death of Lady Isabella. So much so, in fact, that the Tuscan envoy reported to Florence that "general opinion opinion turns in the direction of the Princess, Your Highness's daughter". France, too, was preparing for the Queen's imminent demise, putting forward as its candidate for James's new wife the Duke of Enghien's daughter. The Queen was then trying to make her brother, the Duke of Modena, marry the former, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici.

In February 1687, the Queen, at the time irritated by the King's affair with Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester, moved into new apartments in Whitehall; Whitehall had been home to a Catholic chapel since December 1686. Her apartments were designed by Christopher Wren at the cost of £13,000. Because the palace's renovation was thus far unfinished, the King received ambassadors in her rooms, much to the Queen's chagrin. Five months later, shortly after the marriage talks with Tuscany collapsed, the Queen's mother, Duchess Laura, died. Therefore, the whole English court went into mourning. Duchess Laura left Mary "a considerable sum of cash" and some jewellery. William III of Orange, James's son-in-law, sensed popular discontent with James's government; he used the death of Mary's mother as a guise to send his half-uncle, Count Zuylestein, to England, ostensibly to condole Queen Mary, but really to spy.

Having visited Bath, in the hope its waters would aid conception, Queen Mary became pregnant in late 1687. When the pregnancy became public knowledge shortly before Christmas, Catholics rejoiced. Protestants, who had tolerated James's Catholic government because he had no Catholic heir, were concerned. The Protestant disillusion came to a head after the child's male sex became known, when many Protestants chose to believe the child was illegitimate. They did this to prevent the perpetuation of James II's Catholic dynasty. Popular opinion alleged that the child, named James Francis Edward, was sneaked into the birth chamber as a substitute to the Queen's real but stillborn child. This rumour was widely accepted as fact by Protestants, despite the fact the birth-chamber was intentionally packed full of 200 witnesses, both Protestant and Catholic. Princess Anne of Denmark answered a memorandum of 18 questions regarding James Francis Edward's birth for her sister, the Princess of Orange. Anne's answers, biased and unreliable, convinced the Princess of Orange that her father had thrust a changeling upon the nation. Count Zuylestein, returning to the Netherlands shortly after the birth, agreed with Anne's findings.

Issued by seven leading Whig nobles, the invitation for William to invade England signalled the beginning of a revolution that culminated in James II's deposition. The invitation assured William that "nineteen parts of twenty of the people throughout the kingdom" wished for an intervention. The revolution, known as the Glorious Revolution, deprived James Francis Edward of his right to the English throne, on the grounds he was not the King's real son and, later, because he was a Catholic. England in the hands of William of Orange's 15,000-strong army, James and Mary went into exile in France. There, they stayed at the expense of King Louis XIV, who supported the Jacobite cause.

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